It has always been one of my dreams to hold a lamb, and at the Killary Sheep and Mussel Farm in Killary, Ireland, that dream came true! But I did not just get to hold one, my classmates and I were all given bottles of milk so that we could feed a whole bunch of them – it was amazing!
At this farm we also got to witness first hand how the sheep in Ireland are able to run free amongst acres and acres of land, and watch how they can be herded by a sheep dog – more specifically a 2-year-old sheep dog named Sylvie! Tom Lee, owner of the farm, told us that, “Sylvie is only happy when she’s working – she loves it!” Also, before coming to Ireland, I often heard the joke or myth that there are “More sheep in Ireland than people,” and after visiting, I have to confirm that this indeed may be true.
There is a significant difference between the process of farming in Ireland and the United States. Although I do not agree with raising animals just to consume them, in Ireland, the farmers work tremendously hard and genuinely care about the lives of all of their animals before they have to turn them into consumable meat.
In America, cows, sheep, chickens, etc., spend their entire lives in small and crowded factories before they are put on a conveyor belt and turned into a package of meat that is shipped to the nearest Stop and Shop. However, in Ireland, the animals get to roam free and enjoy the beauties of nature before they are sold at the local market.
But even that shows the difference between Ireland and America. In the states, we often do not know where our meat comes from, and most of us only consume it because it is convenient. If we had the same process in our country as they do in Ireland in which a local farmer (who you know) is gathering this meat for you, maybe more and more people would not consume them. According to WorldAtlas, “Six percent of the Irish population are vegetarians.” This seems low, but Americans are not even on the list! This means that even though American citizens often do not know where their meat comes from, they are still willing to buy it and eat it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this trip to the farm and I thought it was fascinating to see the great quality of life that these animals are given before they are turned into consumable meat. This may be the vegetarian in me talking, but I hope that as more and more people visit this place they will start to see that eating animals isn’t always the “right” choice – just a convenient one.